When it comes to mathematics instruction, Way Elementary believes as the district does:
“Developmentally, we believe students’ needs are best met through differentiation at grade level. We are extremely fortunate in our district to provide an education that focuses on the whole child. Because we believe differentiation occurs best within our individual classrooms, we do not provide multiple mathematics courses at each grade level.”
Yearly we offer up end-of-the-year testing for a handful of students who we believe may benefit from an accelerated year. Past practice has always begun with a teacher recommendation based on data such as our summative and formative assessments as well as day-to-day observations of students. Being a great mathematician means having a growth mindset, so we strongly consider a student’s maturity, instinctive nature and active participation around mathematics. Boredom is a word rarely used by these children as they have an innate way with their thinking that seeks to deepen what they are learning. Children who say they are bored tend to be high achieving students whose focus is on completing work versus being engaged in the learning. These children tend to be passive with their learning and believe that the teacher’s job is to be the deliverer of the “work.” Doing math and understanding math are two different things, and our aim is to always teach toward understanding.
Having spent this past year working with our new math program, enVision 2.0, our teachers have been impressed by the programs strong reading component and how the emphasis of thinking stretches learning as opposed to merely a focus on work completion. This approach aligns nicely with Visible Thinking, our instructional approach.
Testing practice in the past has created some tension for our families because not everyone was aware of testing dates. This was intentional because as mentioned above, we believe the teacher is the best barometer and we don’t believe undue testing for our students is a healthy practice. Every year, we seem to test many students to have only 1 or 2 accelerate, and unnecessary testing is always a wasted learning opportunity.
Having said all of that, math acceleration testing will take place on Tuesday, May 28 for the following year placement. Placements and Recommendations will be handled by a team made up of building and district staff and families will be notified in June. It’s important to thoroughly understand all the possible ramifications of an acceleration, such as what other things your child will be missing in his/her general education classroom at that time, arrangement for transportation to middle school for those skipping 4th grade math among other things. A discussion with the classroom teacher is advised.
If families are interested in having their child tested, they should put their interest in an email to the classroom teacher and CC our testing coordinator, Mrs. Heydenburg. firstname.lastname@example.org